Monday, June 15, 2015

Repotting time

Last week, I cut the spike off of the Home Depot Orchid. The spike wasn't looking like its usual plump green self and one of the leaves was getting a bit splotchy. I'm not sure what is wrong with it but figured that its energy could probably be better off directed towards growth, so off went the spike.

A couple of days ago, while I was fiddling around with the Paph (they sit next to each other on the windowsill), I accidentally knocked him over and he pretty much fell out of the pot. I got him situated but he was mostly half falling out so I decide that on the next watering day, it would be a good time to repot. Look at him, half hanging out there!

What you see sticking out of the pot was most of the roots! The old media went into the trash. Repotting time is also a good time for some beauty maintenance. I ran the roots under the faucet so the roots would turn green. It's much easier to see which roots are still alive that way.

 Anything that wasn't plump and didn't fall anywhere on the spectrum of green or brown/green got cut off.

Next, I filled my watering bucket with water and a couple of drops of Physan 20 Fungicide and plopped the roots in. I also threw the plastic container and stake in for good measure. It doesn't take a lot of physan in the water and it helps to keep algae and fungi away.

While it was having its Physan soak, I wet my sphagmum moss. A lot of people hate (HATE!) finding orchids planted in moss. Moss holds a lot of water and holds onto that water for quite a while. One of the biggest mistakes made my new orchid growers is over watering and having most of the big box store orchids come packed in moss is something that makes a lot of people crazy. The trick with the moss is that you need to let it dry out to a "crispy dry" before you water again and you don't want to pack it in tightly. My Phal Baldan's Kaleidescope is packed in moss and it has been a happy orchid for three years! I also suspect that Home Depot Orchid hasn't been getting as much water is it needed since you can start to see some lines in the leaves. Phalaenopsis orchids can hold water in the stem and leaves and if they start shriveling, then that means they're not getting enough water.

The next part has always been tricky for me: getting the orchid root system back in the pot along with new media. Wetting the roots help to make them a little more flexible. I grabbed the roots I intended to shove back into the pot and stuck them in. If the base of the crown was still too far out of the pot, I would twist the roots down a bit more until he was sitting at an acceptable level. I hold him down with one hand and start adding moss with the other. The moss needs to be squeezed of excess water first. Then, I just try to fill in the gaps. Remember, don't over pack the moss, those roots need air flow!

The purpose of the moss (or any other growing medium for that matter) is two fold. First, it holds the roots down in the pot. Second, it retains moisture to create a humid, but not sopping wet, environment so the roots can slowly take in the water and nutrients it needs.

You can see the pockets of air in the pot and how he's no longer falling out of the pot! I hope he's a happier orchid now!